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South Orange’s Own “Field of Dreams”

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Today, I had the privilege of taking photos for The South Orange Cameron Field Centennial Celebration. Cameron Field is a local baseball field “where the legends played.”  This afternoon, the South Orange Recreation Department and the South Orange Historic Preservation commission sponsored The South Orange Villagers vs The Flemington Neshanock baseball game which was played according to The 1864 rules of baseball.

Cameron Field was dedicated on May 30, 1914 in front of a crowd of nearly 1000 people!!  The idea was to create a space where boys and girls would have space and equipment to play “to their hearts’ content.”

Back in the 1920’s, South Orange would host games that showcased semi-professional talents against other teams and the Negro League teams like The Newark Eagles, a sort of “pseudo All Star Team.”  During that time, players like Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, Larry Doby and many more played games against the South Orange Villagers.  Baseball legends, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played in a game on Cameron Field.  They helped lead The Villagers to a win that game and together, they hit three home runs, including a legendary one that went OVER the railroad tracks.

I learned so many fun tidbits today watching the game.  No gloves were worn – since they hadn’t been invented yet in 1864.  Pitchers could only throw underhanded, running past first base would result in an out.  A fly ball could be caught on one bounce, resulting in an out.  VERY different than today’s rules which was probably why The Villagers lost 15-2. The Flemington Neshanock team plays 40-45 games a year promoting the history of baseball so they are used to crazy bounces and old-time rules.  The other team wore uniforms that were “throw back” vintage. They had bibs attached to them because the bibs were interchangeable. If a player was traded to a different team, they could still wear the same uniform, with another team’s bib and hat.

Despite the score, it was a fun, well attended game and everyone seemed to have a great time!

south orange baseball

Special thanks to The South Orange Historic Preservation Committee, where I was able to learn a lot of the interesting facts that I have included here today.

Last Game…maybe

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I haven’t written a lot about baseball this summer.  It hasn’t been a very successful season for the boys.  Their team has only won two games.  It has been frustrating for the boys and despite how hard they seem to be trying, they just could not make it work out for them.

Tonight could be their last game.  If they lose, the season is over.  Although I am sure it is hard for the boys to realize, there are different ways to calculate success.  For some of these boys, it was their first time on “the big field” which made a big difference.  For others, trying out new positions that they’d never played before was a challenge.  Just working on becoming a cohesive team was difficult at times.  Dave assisted as one of the coaches.  He’s never coached baseball before and it was definitely a learning experience for him as well!

At twelve years old it is hard to see the logic behind a losing season but the last few games showed improvement.  Less errors, more hits, better fielding…they started pulling it together.  If only they had a few more games left.  The coaches don’t measure success only by having a winning season.  For them, it is keeping the boys interested and excited about playing ball and getting them excited to come back to play again next season.

Baseball and Superstitions

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Our nights have been very busy this summer.  Drew is playing on the summer baseball travel team and weeknight games and practices have filled our evenings for nearly the entire month.  Fortunately, our family loves baseball.  We go to baseball games all of the time, whether they are Drew’s games, minor league or even a Mets Game now and then.  We are a little bit baseball crazy right now!

Baseball is one of my favorite parts about summer.   The games are so unpredictable.  They can be over quickly some nights, and go on for hours on others.  We often laugh at some of Drew’s rituals but admit that all four of us are superstitious  and have our own bits of “crazy” that we have to do to psyche ourselves up before we do certain things.  Drew blesses himself and blows a kiss in the sky to my mom before each at bat.  He carries her mass card in his pocket.  He believes in the power of his “lucky bat”.   Dave told me that before he plays soccer, (he plays a few times a week), he has a superstition about tying his shoes in a certain order and won’t tie his shorts until right before a game.  My superstitions involve me thinking that everything I see is “a sign” of something.  Butterflies, dandelion fluffs, pennies….I always think that they mean something!

Drew’s team is playing in a tournament this weekend.  Two today and two more tomorrow.  Then their season ends with single elimination playoffs which begin on Monday.  The season could go on for another week or so, or all be over as soon as Monday night.  I hope that they do well and get to play it out, but as long as they do their best, they have made us all proud.  They have learned so much this year and have come together so fluidly as a team.  They have become more than just teammates, they have become friends.